Jes Lee

Art-a-Whirl already

Wow, a post about Art-a-Whirl already? We haven’t even made it to March, though it has felt like spring around here this week. Yes, for many of us, plans for the huge art weekend in Minneapolis are already being made. I have begun planning what new work I will have to bring, and what new demos I can do at FK Art Glass this year. But the biggest news I have so far is that one of my images will be on the cover of the Art-a-Whirl directory as well as the posters and many other advertisements. I am so thrilled, and honored that they picked my artwork out of the large number of submissions they received! Apparently, this is the first time in 11 years that photography work has been chosen for the cover as well. Here is a sneak peek of what the cover will look like:


So save the date! Art-a-Whirl is always the 3rd weekend in May. This year it will be May 20th 5-10pm, May 21st 12-8pm, and May 22nd 12-5pm.


A list of sorts

Things I have learned:

  1. I am enjoying listening to the audio book ‘The Art of Asking’ by Amanda Palmer much more than I ever thought I would. I have enjoyed her music for a long time, gone to her concerts when I could, and followed along on Twitter and everything else. For many insignificant reasons, I stopped following not very long ago. This book came through a list of suggested audio books available through my library’s website, and I decided to give it a try. It has been amazing to listen to, and today, I find myself following her again on social media.
  2. Meditation is really good for me. It has taught me a lot about myself already. I do very well with guided meditation in my yoga classes, but I am working on meditating alone as well.
  3. I love traveling.
  4. The act of traveling, being sick, going back to work without feeling 100%, and still trying to be creative, makes me more of an introvert than I usually am. Which is why I do not have more photos from our last amazing trip up here yet…but they will be coming soon.
  5. My favorite thing currently is when John and I have both gotten sucked into really good books, and go to bed a little earlier on the weekends just so we can lay in bed together and read.
  6. I successfully developed three rolls of slide film at home and did not blow anything up and I’m pretty sure I could try this again with the same results.
  7. John and I have started planning a pretty major house project together and it has become this wonderful blend of his ideas and my ideas and we are both excited to start it. We have done projects together in the past, but this somehow feels like the most collaborative one yet. I have learned a lot already from it, and I am paying close attention, knowing I will learn so much more by the time it is done.

It will be a busy week, filled with a few art related things happening, as well as work and home things. I will have much more to blog about next week!

My new photo-a-day project is still happening – I have not missed a day yet! I will share photos from that soon. I just developed the first roll of film from it today (see list item #6)!

I will leave you with this:

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Summers that are everything

I have not been letting my days of my break from work slip by unnoticed. Each day I have been steadily working towards two goals: getting the rooms in our house painted (I hit the halfway point last week!) and most importantly, creating new artwork. I have slowly been creating and editing new compilation images using some of the photos I took during our trip to Okinawa last winter.


This image is one of about 6 new pieces I have been working with. Everything is still a work-in-progress. Some of these images end up on my Instagram account if I feel like they are close to being complete.

Last week I had the idea to pick up some screen printing equipment. Thanks to a conversation over beers and dinner with a very awesome, smart friend, I heard of a technique I had not thought of (this happens quite often when I am around certain friends). I started playing with it, and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

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I am able to create colored backgrounds, and then ink jet print images over them.



It needs a lot of tweaking, and many new decisions to be made on colors, and color density, and how it works with each image, but I am thrilled that it worked!! I’m excited to keep experimenting with this throughout the summer.

Last week I was thinking about how many of the images I take don’t get printed, don’t end up in any compilation images, and basically aren’t seen by anyone but me. After recently teaching a class on creating a one-sheet book, I decided to play with that medium, and created this little book.


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This one was so much fun to make, and I plan on making many more. I see them more as ‘zines’ than fine-books. Zines are something I have wanted to make for quite a while, but was struggling with an idea for. I think these making these simple little books will help with that craving.

Each day I have off of my day job, I try to savor. I know all too well that the summer can go by in an instant. So far, it has felt like a wonderful, long break, and I still have many days left to come. I have already done more creating that I ever hoped to, and I have no intention to stop.

May you all enjoy the summer and warm weather as much as you can, whether you are working or not!

Made Here launch and on to summer

The Made Here MN launch party was Wednesday night…and it was amazing!

I enjoyed meeting the other artists, catching up with a few I have known. We went on a walking tour of all the installation sites, ending with a lovely continuation of the party at the new Mayo Clinic Square. It was so much fun! I loved the chance to catch up with friends and fellow artists I have not seen in a while, meeting new, interesting people, and seeing a slice of the creative energy that exists in this city. I have said it before, but being a part of this installation project has been amazing and exciting for me!



photo taken by Shannon Hady!



Photo taken by a lovely tourist walking the bridge at the same time!


We parked on the other side of the river, and had a lovely walk back to our cars at the end of the evening. I love the view of our city, and especially our river at night.

Escapes, the site-specific image I made for my Made Here installation is now up in my Etsy shop in print form.

This was one of the last big events I have planned for this summer break from work. I have thought a lot about the directions my work is going in, and what is next. More musings about this in another blog post. I still have a lot to work out in my head…but the future is bright.


Life is what happens

and blah blah blah….however you choose to finish that sentence.

Well! May was a whirlwind! I took flower photos with my uncle out somewhere in Wisconsin, finished work for the summer, did Art-a-Whirl, helped my family take care of my grandma, got our yard work started and finished (for now), and finally spent some time working on my book. Most of these items will have their own little blog post devoted to them over the next couple of weeks.

For now I’m still taking a little time to catch my breath.

Last weekend was Memorial Day. John and I decided to take ourselves on a little ride, he on the motorcycle, me on my scooter. I didn’t get photos taken with anything other than my cell phone…something I am definitely going to work on changing this summer. But the ride was fun, and relaxing, we missed the rain, and made it home despite John’s headlight deciding to not work. The scenery was lovely, the roads mostly empty, and I think I finally felt myself relax just a little then.

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Onward to summer!

Just a little post of flowers

I have spent a lot of time with my laptop, working on artwork every waking minute that I am not at work. Which isn’t horrible – at this time of year I usually get antsy to get out and start working on our yard, which makes my spring allergies even worse. This year, there just isn’t time for that. But yesterday I did let myself out of the house for a few minutes to see what is going on out there. I’m worried about our little crab-apple tree, but everything else appears to be growing and flowering and making the bumble bees around here happy.

I still don’t have a working camera on my phone…but I really haven’t missed that much. It takes me a bit longer to get my #100DaysProject photos posted to Instagram, but that isn’t really a big deal anyway.

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The last of the mind-numbing editing is done for my Made Here work. Next step is more test printing, and sending the images on their way to the printer. I’m excited to see how the prints turn out. This will be the largest I have ever had anything printed!


5 new boxes of pottery were priced, and packaged, ready for Craftstravaganza in a couple of weeks.

And I have already packed my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow’s early work day. I am celebrating every minor accomplishment this morning!

John has been amazing at getting the house ready for weekend guests. I don’t know what I would do without him! I managed to get just a little more laundry done. Somehow, everything around here that needs to happen, does.

I will make it to yoga today as well. Possibly, one of the kindest things I will do for myself today.

I hope you find something kind to do for yourself as well.


One can’t survive on photos alone

I used to be a very stressed out and high-strung person. I still can be at times. But this is something that I promised John I would work on, and he is one of the first people to say I have gotten better over the last couple of years.

Sure, a lot of it is attitude. Training my brain to let go of the things I can’t control, the changes I can’t stop, and taking one thing at a time. To let go of things that aren’t working, which sometimes has included certain people as well. That last one hasn’t been easy.

I have been changing my diet in small ways. I have stopped critiquing my body. I have stopped listening to people telling me what I should do, unless I have asked for their opinion.

I keep creating, because I have to, and because I want to. I have changed my definition of creating.

I go to yoga and I meditate as many days as I can, and every day I remind myself that I know how to breathe.

I am noticing more. And stopping to notice more often.

I am forgiving more. Trying to. Sometimes this takes more time than I would like it to.

Am I perfect at all of this? Hell no. Are there still times when I get super stressed out and un-wrapped and need to be reminded of these things? Sure. But I am trying. And it is helping me. It is making a difference.



Printing and photo walks

One of the things I have planned for the Made Here exhibit is a new compilation image of things photographed close to where my installation would be. Now that I have a location where my work will be displayed, I needed to get started on creating that new piece.

I had been planning a trip out to the site on Sunday for a while. It would be a quiet day, with not too many things planned. The weather was supposed to be decent, and I figured John and I could get out for a walk, and stop for a drink at some near-by place when I was done.

Of course, I didn’t expect myself to be mostly recovered from being sick, but John to be in the middle of a bad cold. He was understandably not up for going on a long walk around the city with me. So, after much hesitation, I went by myself.

You see, I have always enjoyed photo walks with friends. This is something we would do in photo class…or at least we would always have our cameras with us, ready to turn anything into a photo walk. My friend Julie would always be up for walking around the cities at night while I took pictures, usually leading to crazy adventures, and plenty of stories we still laugh about to this day.

Of course, friends get different jobs, and move away, have kids, and many things change, but I have always seemed to have one friend or another that would go with…until recently.

So, I have gone out more often by myself. I always hesitate at first, my brain telling me I hate going out alone, that there will be too many weird people, that they will hate me for whatever reason…hello inner-critic. But I eventually go anyway.

Today, was one of those days. With my brain telling me not to leave, I left John home to rest, grabbed my headphones and camera, and went to work on this project.

I came home happy, relaxed, and with 5 rolls of film from my walk that went for almost 2 hours. I think it is finally time to stop believing my inner-critic, and start admitting that I am perfectly happy to go out by myself when that is the best option.

5 rolls of film to develop Monday, and see how they might work into a new image for this.

After I got back home, I did some more work on one of the other images. I have re-scanned negatives, making the file size big enough to print 4ft square at 300dpi…and you know what? I actually like the bit I printed from the original image, enlarged past what it should be for printing resolution. I need to talk with a few people who know more about printing things large than I do…but perhaps this means a bit less busy work for me.

It was so amazing, seeing where my work will be installed! I still can’t believe I have this opportunity!

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Steady on

First, I want to thank everyone that has congratulated me on my latest project! All of the kind words really, really mean a ton to me.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I am a bit overwhelmed thinking of everything that is coming up, and needs to be done. But it will all happen. I have learned to have faith in that, and keep going one bit at a time.

Today was supposed to be a busy day filled with work, followed by an evening with friends. But, due to me still not being back to feeling 100% after the upper respiratory crap I have had the last couple of weeks, and John starting to not feel great again, we are slowing down. Something I probably need more than I care to admit.

So, after work today, I will go home, and curl up on the couch with John, watch a few movies, and work on the mechanical processes of getting images ready for this project. Thanks to a new hard drive in my little laptop, working on those things from the couch is possible!

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